When Americans get their paycheck every month, there are a ton of deductions from it — some represent money taken by state governments, some by the feds, but one of the largest line-items is the amount taken to pay a private insurance company for some of the most expensive, least comprehensive medical insurance offered in any country on the planet.
The fact that this isn't a government-levied fee means that formally, it's not a "tax" — but it is money that gets creamed off of your pay, and you don't really have a choice in the matter. Buying "cheap insurance" isn't an option, because there isn't "cheap health care" to step in when you have a heart attack.
Other rich countries pay half as much per-capita on healthcare (10% of GDP rather than 20%), making America's health system the least efficient in the world. The good news is that this means that are tons of savings to be realized by eliminating the useless intermediaries — health insurers — and the useless work they create (administrators) and the worse-than-useless asshole profiteers (the private-equity backed medical services and pharma companies) that gouge the sick and injured.
As economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (previously) explains in The Guardian, replacing America's failing, expensive, lethal boondoggle with a publicly administered system would result in nearly all Americans having more money at the end of the month, not less — and in addition, we'd halt medical bankruptcies and ensure that every American would have access to world-quality care.
As one illustration, it's possible to see how the tax plans of the leading Democratic primary candidates would affect tax rates for each group of the population. For instance, Bernie Sanders's tax proposals would be enough to replace all existing private insurance premiums, while leaving 2.6% of national income to cover the uninsured and spend on other programs. Under such a plan, the 9 bottom deciles of the income distribution would gain income on average, as would the bottom of the top 10%. With smart new taxes—such as broad income taxes exempting low wages and retirees—it is possible to make the vast majority of the population win from a transition to universal health insurance.
Supporters of Medicare for All are right. Funding universal health insurance through taxes would lead to a large tax cut for the vast majority of workers. It would abolish the huge poll tax they currently shoulder, and the data show that for most workers, it would lead to the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation.
Make no mistake: Medicare for All would cut taxes for most Americans [Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman/The Guardian]